One of the very best things that maturing as an individual offers you is the practice of mindfulness. Put simply, you start to recognize when you’re being difficult, whiny, indulgent and you change your behavior accordingly. For example, it simply puzzles me how certain people need to take a survey of everyone else’s opinions before making certain life choices. Aren’t you the one using the mortar/pestle, dress etc?
Similarly, when you’ve been exposed to certain theorists in the social sciences, your eyes begin to pick up on certain aspects of everyday life and think of them in novel ways. For example, when you’ve learnt of Bourdieu you can never really go back. Of his many theories, the one I find most relevant in my life is the one of “habitus.” To summarize very broadly, it just means that our upbringing, values and past experiences all shape our current socio-cultural outlook and outcomes. In the larger scheme of things it matters because there are also practices in play that impact the process of social climbing through the accumulation of wealth and privilege. Face it, we all want the best and are a part of the game, whether we are aware or not. So, this is helpful in two ways: one, if you want to take part and win a little, you can actively take on endeavors that will help you reach your objectives for success; two, you are able to understand people’s motivations with a bit more compassion because, habitus comes into play for all of us. Now, it is important to remember that the best players make it look effortless. Everyone tries but some come off a bit desperate.
Taking this into consideration, I can better understand certain aspects of my own character. My love for fashion did not come out of nowhere but was initiated by a mother who taught me from a young age that it matters how we present ourselves to the world. God, you should have seen some of my outfits as a child, she has impeccable taste. It is from her that I learnt the value of clean lines, well-cut tailoring and how our styles can reflect our sense of self. When you love fashion, it’s easier to engage with these principles when you have a body that you’re comfortable in. Life’s too short not to look and feel great and obviously everyone defines this for themselves and on their own terms.
Secondly, I am particular when it comes to aesthetics, not just in fashion but also the material world. This type of need for perfectionism also carries through to my love of the culinary arts. There is nothing that feeds the soul more than good food. Yes, you can still indulge in this realm while setting limits on portion size and using some common sense. And god, if you do have a treat don’t waste it by feeling guilty. You would have done better not eating it at all. Being particular means that I’m also a control freak who tries to not ask for help. Therefore, when you come over to my house my answer will probably be “no thanks” when people graciously offer their assistance. It’s no slight to them, I’ve just been raised and surrounded by perfectionists who have thoroughly frustrated me. When someone takes you up on your offer to help out, but nit picks everything in the process, you kind of want to say, WTF, do it yourself. Therefore, knowing this, I do it myself. And, if I do ask for help I relinquish control and try my best to keep my mouth shut so that the person gets to feel the full satisfaction of getting something done. Really, you can change it when the individual goes home anyways to not hurt their feelings.
Thirdly, control freaks are infamous dissectors and this often gets worse when they become parents. Especially in this day and age when there are so many books available about various methods, it’s easy to become too mindful of your actions. My very blunt PhD supervisor, who is also a mother, once said to me “hey, as long we’re not locking our children in closets and beating them, we’re doing pretty good.” So, a little common sense comes into play. Love them, be there, and do your best but give yourself a break. There are so many critics already, do not add to the noise. It is also pretty likely that with any social interaction, we will crash into each other in the best of ways. Habitus demands it.